Is the eerie tree beside their bucolic cottage really a threat to ten-year-old Immy? Legend and hearsay give way to a creepy series of events in a captivating mystery.
Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.
Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.
These rounded, engaging characters (they default to white), compassionately drawn, lend depth to the spookily enjoyable plot. Crafted from shivery supernatural elements, this fable celebrates the power of empathy and forgiveness. —Kirkus Reviews
Rushby’s eerie tale should suit younger middle grade horror fans; the plot moves quickly, and the lightly creepy atmosphere remains spooky without becoming threatening. —Publishers Weekly
Well crafted and carefully paced, this manages to be appealingly tense and suspenseful while attending to serious emotional themes of forgiveness and responsibility. The legend of the tree and the missing kids offer obvious intrigue, but the heart of the story is Immy’s relationship with her father, who has fallen into a depression after an accident back home. The eventual connection between the tragedy of the tree and the tragedy of that accident makes for a full circle completion to the story. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This title will feel right at home on library shelves, providing an immersive, well-paced page-turner with the comforting feel of a classic English tale. —School Library Journal Online